Google investing serious cash in AR technology, but it’s not Glass

Google is pouring cash into an augmented reality start-up called Magic Leap.

The secretive firm is speculated to be building AR-friendly glasses that will overlay high-resolution 3D graphics onto your normal field of vision.

Google is heading up a massive investment round for Magic Leap to the tune of $542 million – that’s about £334m sterling.

The head of both Google’s Android and Chrome divisions, Sundar Pichai, will also be joining Magic Leap’s board of directors.

Don Harrison, Google’s VP of corporate development, is also set to join the board.

The funding is coming straight out of Google’s pocket this time around, instead of being shifted across from Google Ventures, the firm’s venture capital investment arm.

Head over to Magic Leap’s website and you’ll find a video of someone opening their hands to reveal an miniature 3D-animated elephant.

This kind of hi-res AR tech is fairly unprecedented, and has been absent in terms of consumer products so far.

Other firms included in this round of investment include Qualcomm, Kleiner Perkins, Obvious Ventures, and Legendary Pictures.

Thomas Tull, Legendary’s CEO, spoke to the WSJ about the project: “It was incredibly natural and almost jarring – you’re in the room, and there’s a dragon flying around, it’s jaw-dropping and I couldn’t get the smile off of my face.

There’s no telling how tied together Google Glass and Magic Leap will be at this stage.

Although it seems unlikely Google would want to fund a competitor product, Glass isn’t well-suited to augmented reality due to its peripheral display.

Instead, Magic Leap is better poised in between Glass and VR-tech like Gear VR or the Oculus Rift – a standalone category.

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